When the Chicago Cubs traded for Alex Avila this past July, they didn’t think they were trading for a starting catcher.
But with the unexpected – and relatively lengthy – injury to Willson Contreras in early August, Avila has been thrust into that role with the Cubs.
Fortunately, given Avila’s experience, veteran leadership, and well-above average bat (141 wRC+ since joining the Cubs), the trade-off hasn’t been too painful.
The one way in which the Avila-Contreras swap has felt negatively noticeable, though, is with stolen bases. Despite being a pretty solid steal-stopper in Detroit (33.3 CS%), Avila caught just 2 of the 10 base-stealers during his time with the Cubs. Compared to Willson Contreras’ 28.2 CS% mark, that’s a big drop off.
But last night, Avila reminded folks he’s got a good arm, too, when he caught Billy Hamilton, who leads the league in stolen bases (52) by NINE (including one successful attempt last night), trying to take a freebie:
Alex Avila throws out Billy Hamilton. pic.twitter.com/VR54jXrJlk
— Kevin Marchina (@kg_holler) August 23, 2017
Also credit second baseman Ian Happ there (who wasn’t even supposed to start that game) with a nifty no-look tag, but yeah, most of that credit goes to Avila.
Not many catchers can, eh hem, catch someone like Hamilton, but Avila did it with ease. In the absence of Willson Contreras, the Cubs are extraordinarily lucky to have a guy like Avila.